Why Be Curious? A serious, but still seriously delicious, Freisa from the leading producer in the Colli Tortonesi (southeast Piemonte). Freisa is the “country cousin” (or more accurately, rustic parent) of Nebbiolo. Freisa is an ancient variety and centuries ago in certain parts of Piemonte was prized more highly than Nebbiolo. Freisa grows widely around Piemonte and is vinified in a wide range of styles: sparkling, still, sweet, and dry. This wine, along with Barbera ‘Monleale’ and Croatina ‘Pertichetta’, demonstrates that Walter Massa is an able and versatile rossista (red wine maker), in addition to having the magic touch with Timorasso.
Produttore / Producer: Walter Massa is the real deal: a contadino (farmer) with deep family roots in his native Colli Tortonesi who’s usually plowing his vineyards or buzzing around his cellar when someone arrives for a visit. He’ll then stop to spend hours showing around, pouring wines for, and talking with the continual waves of journalists, sommeliers, importers, buyers, and just plain fans who make their way to his village of Monleale in the southeast corner of Piemonte. Massa is universally known as the Maestro of Timorasso — he rescued it from obscurity and near-extinction and now leads a mini-renaissance of the variety in the Colli Tortonesi. But he also produces amazing and distinctive reds from the local varieties Barbera, Croatina, Freisa, and Nebbiolo. Besides being one of Italy’s truly great producers, he’s a stellar example of what the Italians call a personaggio — a real personality. We are lucky to have him and his wines.
Vigna / Vineyard: From plots around the village of Monleale.
Cantina / Cellar: Native yeasts. Vinified dry (and still), with aging in 31 glass damigiana (54 liter / 14 gallon large glass demijohns). Glass isn’t a great insulator, so there were extreme temperature differences during the aging. No filtration.
Il Vino / The Wine: Complex and structured Freisa, but not without some playfulness. This wine shows the spicy, elegant side of Freisa. It will be interesting to see how it ages; it’s gorgeous now. The name L’Avvelenata (“The Poisoned”) comes from the title of a 1976 song by Italian singer-songwriter Francesco Guccini:
Ma s’ io avessi previsto tutto questo, dati causa e pretesto, le attuali conclusioni
credete che per questi quattro soldi, questa gloria da stronzi, avrei scritto canzoni…
mi piace far canzoni e bere vino, mi piace far casino, poi sono nato fesso…
But if I had foreseen all this, considered all the reasons and excuses, the still relevant conclusions,
Do you think I would’ve written these songs for a couple of bucks, for some kind of asshole-glory?…
I like making songs and drinking wine, I like making a mess., I was born the fool…
A Tavola… / At the Table… Use it as you would Nebbiolo. The tannins are present but not overwhelming, so it will pair well with most meat dishes and aged cheeses. Or put on your old Francesco Guccini records and sing — and drink — along.
Vigneti Massa Freisa ‘L’Avvelenata’
Vigna / Vineyard
Nome / Name: Plots around Monleale (Colli Tortonesi DOC).
Quota / Altitude: 250-280 m / 920 ft.
Suoli / Type of soils: Calcareous and clayey soils.
Esposizione / Exposure: Various.
Vitigni / Varieties: 100% Freisa.
Allevamento / Trellis system: Guyot.
Metodo di vendemmia / Harvest technique: Hand harvested.
Metodo agricolo / Agricultural technique: Lotta integrata (sustainable).
Cantina / Cellar
Lieviti / Yeasts: Native.
Élevage: In 31 glass damigiana (54 liter / 14 gallon large glass demijohns).
Chiarificazione, filtrazione / Clarification, filtratration: None.
Zolfo / Sulphur: 20 mg/L added at bottling.
Altri prodotti aggiunti? / Other products added?: None.
Gradazione alcolica / Alcoholic %: 13.5%.
Tappo e bottiglia / Closure and bottle: Natural cork, 750 ml Burgundy bottle.